Now You See It: A Toby Peters Mystery

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Book: Now You See It: A Toby Peters Mystery by Stuart M. Kaminsky Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stuart M. Kaminsky
Tags: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective
will be on the book, etc. Thinking of the first letter is a meaningless red herring .
— From the Blackstone, the Magic Detective radio show
     
    A T THE L.A. C OUNTY H OSPITAL emergency room, a kid doctor plucked the pellet from Gwen’s chest and said she would have to stay overnight. Then he took the pellet from my shoulder and patched me up.
    “I’ve never seen so many scars on a living human,” the kid said.
    “And each one has a story,” I said.
    “War?”
    “No, mostly mistakes, bad timing, stupidity,” I said.
    The pellet had barely penetrated the flesh. At the distance I had been shot, that was about the best the shooter could have hoped for other than hitting my eye.
    “You’ll be fine,” said the kid doctor dressed in crumpled whites who looked as if he hadn’t slept in a week. “In Casino if that had been a bullet, we would have pulled it out, splashed on some iodine and a bandage and handed you your rifle.” No overnight for me.
    Two waiting uniformed cops took me to the Wilshire Station.
    I knew the Wilshire Station. My brother had been a captain there. That was right after he had been a lieutenant and right before he had been busted back to lieutenant again.
    Lieutenant John Cawelti, he of the pocked face, red hair parted in the middle, and perpetual look of badly concealed hatred for all things Pevsner or Peters, sat behind a desk in a small office.
    He pointed to the chair on the other side of the desk and got up to close the door and stepped over to me.
    “Where do we start?” Cawelti said standing over me.
    The office hadn’t changed much since Phil had left it less than a month before. Same desk with a murky window behind in and a view of a brick wall. Same three chairs, one behind the desk, two in front of it. The top of the desk had a full in-box in the left corner and a full out-box in the right, with a few files laid out unevenly between them. A coffee-mug stain marked the top file. The only change I could see was the plaque on the wall across from the desk.
    I turned my head to look at the plaque, ignoring Cawelti who hovered over me with Listerine breath. The plaque read: To John Merwin Cawelti, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the Los Angeles Police Department’s annual picnic for the widows and orphans of our comrades who have fallen in the line of duty. Both the Mayor and the Chief of Police had signed it. About half the members of the department had the same plaque.
    “Where do we start?” Cawelti insisted.
    “Merwin?” I said turning my head and looking up at him.
    He pointed a finger at me and jabbed it into the spot where the pellet had struck. I did more than wince. I clamped my teeth together and almost passed out.
    “I want my lawyer,” I said.
    “Why?” he asked. “You haven’t been accused of anything yet?”
    “Then I want to leave,” I said, starting to get up.
    I leaned quickly to my right to avoid the jabbing finger.
    “You shot Birmingham,” he said.
    “Cunningham, and I didn’t shoot him.”
    “You shot him and went after the girl because she saw you shoot him. Then you shot her.”
    “And then I shot myself,” I said.
    “Yeah. And pitched the gun. We’re looking for it.”
    “Ask the girl,” I said. “She’ll tell you I didn’t shoot her.”
    “And she’ll tell me you didn’t shoot Cunningham, right?”
    “The girl saw the shooter. She’ll give you a description.”
    “Yeah,” he said. “Beard, turban, bullshit. We’ve got the beard and turban where you dropped them on the steps.”
    “I was onstage about to be sawed in half by a buzz saw when Cunningham was shot,” I said.
    “We don’t know exactly when he was shot.”
    “Check with the doorman. Check with Gwen. They’ll tell you I couldn’t …”
    “And I’ll tell you you could,” he said. “You’re working for the magician. Cunningham was trying to blackmail him. You shot him. Then you went after the witness.”
    “I helped her, and who do you think

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